Malignant melanoma clinically mimicking pyogenic granuloma: comparison of clinical evaluation and histopathology

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Abstract

Amelanotic melanomas (AMMs) account for a small proportion of all melanomas. They pose a risk of delayed diagnosis and, consequently, poor prognosis. AMMs may atypically present as a pyogenic granuloma-like lesion. This study sought to investigate the prevalence and clinical and histological features of AMM masquerading as pyogenic granuloma. The database of a tertiary medical center was screened for all patients pathologically diagnosed with melanoma in 2005–2016. Those with a suspected primary (i.e. pre-excision) clinical diagnosis of pyogenic granuloma were identified, and their demographic, clinical, histologic, and outcome data were collected from the medical files. Of 2038 patients diagnosed with melanoma, 10 (∼0.5%) had a pyogenic granuloma-like AMM. The mean±SD age at lesion presentation was 56±18.9 years and the mean time from lesion appearance to diagnosis was 91.5±117.1 months. Nine tumors were located on the skin surface, and one on the oral mucosa. The mean lesion size was 19.6±14.1 mm2 and the mean Breslow’s depth was 6.47±3.1 mm; all tumors presented in the vertical growth phase. Seven (70%) patients had lymph node involvement or metastasis at diagnosis. Two patients died of the disease within 1 year of diagnosis. Given the potential lethality of AMM and the benign nature of pyogenic granuloma, clinician recognition of pyogenic granuloma-like AMMs is crucial. In the presence of a pyogenic granuloma-like lesion, findings of older patient age and large tumor size should raise the index of suspicion and prompt a biopsy study, thereby ensuring early and accurate treatment.

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